Teach your kids good oral health techniques for life

Updated August 19, 2016

What is one of the many things kids don’t want to do every day? If you said brush their teeth, you are correct.  Most, but not all, children do not enjoy brushing their teeth at night or in the morning. They are so busy learning, wanting to play, and becoming independent; they don’t have time to brush their teeth. Oral health in a child needs to start early. The best way to do this is teaching them young.

 

Get your child in the habit of a bedtime and morning routine. Do this every day, even on the weekends until it becomes natural for the child. For young children, you can play a song while they brush their teeth. When the song ends, they know by the verbal cue that they can then rinse their mouth and know they are done with their oral health until bedtime. You could also make a game out of brushing your child’s teeth. Give them stickers as a prize and make a wall chart to place those stickers on so they can see the progress they have gained. Once they hit their target goal of a certain amount of days without missing a brushing, they get a special treat. They will be much more active in their oral health if they have a goal to work towards, rather than just perfect teeth later in life!

It's an issue that many parent are likely to be familiar with: are your kids getting the proper basics for good oral hygiene? Oral health is important to overall health so it's never too early for kids to start learning good dental habits.

Nutrition 

The first concern for parents should be what goes into your child's mouth, as far as his or her diet is concerned. The foods and drinks he or she consumes is just as important as any dental care can be. The amount of sugars (including high fructose corn syrups) that are found in foods and drinks specifically marketed towards children is astounding, even if they are labeled as "healthy." 

Try and include more fresh fruits in your child’s diet rather than juices. Berries are especially suitable for children because they are easy to pick up and eat on their own. They are a slow carbohydrate so they give your child long-lasting energy without a “sugar” crash, and they are low in sugar as the sugar the fruit does have, is natural sugar which is much more healthy for you than artificial sweeteners that are found in many “healthy” snacks.

Another important fact regarding nutrition is to have your child consume more dairy. Yogurt with granola and berries for breakfast is not only a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates, and fruit, but it has a tremendous amount of calcium which is good for strong teeth and bones.

Keep a close eye on the nutritional value stats on the products your kids consume. If you limit intake of sugars and sweeteners, your son or daughter's overall oral health will benefit greatly.

Don't let thumb-sucking last

For younger children, the issue of thumb sucking can be problematic. There is nothing to fear if your youngster is a thumb sucker, but you don't want the habit to persist after about the age of three. Studies show that prolonged occurrences of this habit after this age can negatively affect a child's oral health. 

Over time, the formation of the structure of the jaw and teeth can be affected and altered by having an object routinely and consistently placed inside the oral cavity. There are multiple means of remedying the habit of thumb-sucking. Do your research to determine what might be the best approach for your child, if necessary.

Keep regular dentist visits

Consistent visits to the dentist are also a major benefit to your child's dental health. While the tenets of brushing and flossing are great habits, there is no getting around regular visits to the dentist. Dental professionals can often foresee dental problems well before they might occur, such as cavities, misalignments, etc. When treated in these early stages, the issues are usually less troublesome and less expensive to deal with. By not taking your child to the dentist every six months for a regular dental check-up, you are instilling in him or her that oral health is not important. Children who do not go to the dentist regularly have more cavities that need fillings than children you do have regular appointments. The last thing you want is to have your child with a mouthful of fillings. It is critical to teach the importance of oral health before your child’s adult teeth come in as that set will need to last them a lifetime! Make sure your child visits the dentist every six months.

Lead by example

For all of these tips, your habits should serve as the example for your family.

When it comes to diet, watch what you eat too! Many times, members of the family tend to eat the same things, so adults will resort to eating quick, unhealthy meals and snacks geared towards children because they are easily obtainable. 

Be an example to the younger members of your family by eating healthy foods and limiting the amount of sugar you intake. By setting the standard of incorporating a healthy diet, you improve your children's oral health, as well as your own.

Find a dentist and keep up with regular visits even if you happen to go while your child is in school or at daycare, talk to them about it! The dentist can be a scary place for kids, but knowing that you go, discussing it with you and learning the importance can go a long way in changing that outlook.

While oral health may not be a top priority in every family's daily routine, these steps can make a huge difference. When your family gets into a consistent routine of paying attention to their diet and consumption of sweets, keeping an eye on oral habits during the early stages of a child's life, properly brushing and flossing in a consistent and thorough manner, and maintaining regular visits to the dentist, you can prevent a lot of headaches (and toothaches) in the future!

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